For the first time since their emotional homecoming last Tuesday night, the three Pella families that adopted five orphans from Haiti brought all of their families together this past weekend. The Fuller and Poulter families gathered at the home of Dave and Andrea Vanderhoff to celebrate the ninth birthday of one of the new additions to the Fuller family, daughter Roselaure.
Roselaure’s mother, Tracy Fuller, says their daughter and her brother Kenson seem to be adjusting well, but adds that it’s been just as much of an adjustment for her to get used to being an adoptive parent.
“It’s really important to kind of shut in and stay home and keep things quiet for a while; and I’m not used to being a stay-at-home mom,” said Fuller. “Hardly a day goes by when I’m not leaving the house twenty times, so just to be home and be in has been a big adjustment for me.”
Fuller added that even the effort for her and husband Les to get two more children ready to make the trip over to the Vanderhoff’s was its own adventure.
Dave Vanderhoff, who welcomed daughter Roselande and son Carl into their family that included three biological children with his wife Andrea, agrees that the children are adjusting well, and was amazed at how quick his children bonded with their new siblings.
“[Last] Wednesday morning when we woke up, after all of the excitement Tuesday night, we came out of our room and two of our older kids were sitting with Carl – our adoptive son – on the couch watching cartoons. And it was just really neat to see them sitting there and acting like they’d being doing it for years,” said Vanderhoff.
The largest family at Sunday’s gathering was the Poulters, who now have six children with the addition of daughter Maya. Mandy, who made the trip to Haiti with her husband Matt to bring the children to Pella, says there will continue to be adjustments for her daughter, but says she’s making progress already.
“We just keep working on some of the cultural things,” said Poulter. “Introducing her to the new foods that we have, and the weather was a big change for her. She kind of buries her head in mine and Matt’s shoulder whenever we step out into the cold. Also the language barrier; I think she’ll pick that up very quickly. Already we can hear her repeating words that her brothers and sisters are saying.”
The Haitian children speak Creole, and all of the parents have been learning basic phrases and words to better understand their children, while the kids are learning English through playing with their new siblings.
While the families agreed that it is important for the Haitian children – who lived together at an orphanage in Port-au-Prince – to see each other often, they noted that time apart between visits is also needed to help them get acclimated to their new families and new lives in Pella.